Faith, Practice, and Study
Nichiren Shoshu Basic of Practice
Refers to believing in the Dai-Gohonzon and Nichiren Daishonin's teachings. There are two ultimate purposes for taking faith in this Buddhism. One is to realize an absolute unshakable state of happiness. The other is to realize an ideal society in which people can enjoy happy lives together based on true Buddhism. The most important point to keep in mind is that the practice of true Buddhism is a lifelong journey.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches us that to begin is easy but to continue is difficult; however, attaining enlightenment lies in continuing faith. The will to believe in and have respect for the Gohonzon is expressed as practice. The deep desire to seek the truth of Buddhism is expressed as the study of doctrine.
Our Daily Buddhist Practice
The Fundamental of the Buddha way are Gongyo and Shodai.
Nichiren Shoshu Basic of Practice
The first thing a new believer learns is how to do Gongyo (Sutra Recitation of the 2nd and 16th chapters from the Lotus Sutra). This is because Gongyo and Shodai, chanting Daimoku, to the Gohonzon, the True Buddha, are the most basic, important practices in faith. In Nichiren Shoshu, faith and the practice of Gongyo and Shodai are inseparable.
Gongyo is done earnestly everyday in the morning and in the evening; it is a powerful engine for building a happy life. When we do this practice thoroughly and earnestly, we receive actual proof of the fortune of embracing the Gohonzon. Our hearts are filled with boundless joy, and we realize that having faith in the Gohonzon is a wonderful, unsurpassed treasure.
JUZU (The Prayer Beads)
The Juzu beads used in Nichiren Shoshu have been offered in front of the Gohonzon and are prayed over at the Head Temple or a local temple through the profound "Eye Opening" ceremony conducted by the High Priest or local temple priest.
The two large beads at either end are called the parental beads, the mother bead and the father bead. They both signify the Buddha and MyoHo (Mystic Law). Just under the father bead is a smaller one that represents the essential nature of the Law, the absolute truth that has existed before the beginning of the time.
There are 108 beads strung between the parental beads that signify the 108 earthly desires that we possess. Four smaller beads strung among the 108 beads that signify the four noble virtues: Eternity, Happiness, True Self, and Purity.
The tassels at the ends of the parental beads carry the meaning of Kosen-rufu and symbolize the continuous stream of Myoho (the Mystic Law) to the whole world.
The roundness of the beads signifies the benefit of Myoho.
Because of their profound significance, you should treat your prayer beads with respect, just as you would respect the Buddha.
Joining our Hands in Prayer
It has been said that the ten digits portray the concept of three-thousand realms inherent in the ten worlds, and joining the fingers and palms signifies the mutual possession of the ten worlds. Bringing the joined hands in front of the chest represents the white lotus of our hearts (our faith).
Learning To Perform Gongyo
In this video, Nichiren Shoshu Priests perform SLOW Gongyo, the recitation of a portion of the 2nd and the entire 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
For new Buddhists, following along with the Priest when you are learning to chant is the very best way to learn the sutra pronunciation properly. It is also good practice for long-term members to improve their Gongyo.
Sutra books and Juzu beads are available from the Temple office.
Shodai is the abbreviated Japanese term that means, “chanting Daimoku.”
The Daishonin states:
The most important thing is to chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and attain enlightenment. (Gosho, p.1388; MW-1, p. 214)
Nichiko Shonin, the Fifty-ninth High Priest, gave the following instructions about how we should chant Daimoku:
The Daimoku that we chant must be performed attentively and diligently. When chanting, we should not have trivial thoughts in our minds. The speed should not be too fast and our pronunciation should not be slurred. We must maintain a medium pitch and chant calmly, resolutely and steadily. The amount depends on individual circumstances... When we chant, the entire body should feel a tremendous surge of joy. We must persevere until we become totally one with the Gohonzon.
(Nichiren Shoshu Koyo, p. 134)
Chanting Daimoku (Shodai) enables us to eradicate our offenses from our past lives, which are the causes for our suffering. This is the reason why it is important to chant to the Gohonzon. The Daishonin teaches the following in the “Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”):
We wake up with the Buddha in the morning, and we go to bed with the Buddha at night. We are always attaining Buddhahood, and we are always manifesting the original state.
(Gosho, p. 1749 [Summary])
Our practice is something that emerges from the determination of our faith. Our faith and practice are kept on track by study. We study and learn Nichiren Daishonin's teaching under the guidance of the High Priest. Furthermore, each month there is an Oko lecture at each local temple given by the chief priest. These lectures help us understand the profound meaning and depth of the Buddhist teachings.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. Both practice and study arise from faith. (Gosho, p.668)